The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Cardinals

THE BIG PICTURE

The Eagles come off the bye having won three games in a row for the first time all season. At 6-5, they’ll look to keep pace with the Cowboys atop the division.


The Cardinals, meanwhile, have won four in a row and are in good position to compete for a wild card spot. They crushed the Colts 40-11 in Week 12.

Here is how the Eagles' offense matches up with the Cardinals' defense:

 
Yards Per Play
Points Per Game
DVOA (FB Outsiders)
Eagles Offense6.3 (1st)25.1 (8th)18.9% (4th)
Cardinals Defense4.8 (4th)20.3 (8th)-18.1% (2nd)

And the Eagles' defense against the Cardinals' offense:

 
Yards Per Play
Points Per Game
DVOA (FB Outsiders)
Cardinals Offense5.3 (15th)23.1 (18th)-9.0% (25th)
Eagles Defense5.6 (21st)23.6 (15th)8.6% (27th)

Note: Click here for an explanation of DVOA.

***

EAGLES RUSHING OFFENSE

 
YPC
FB Outsiders (DVOA)
Eagles Rushing Offense4.9 (2nd)21.5% (1st)
Cardinals Rushing Defense3.5 (3rd)-22.7% (4th)

Bruce Arians was clear this week about what the Cardinals' priority on defense would be.

Asked about Foles, he told Arizona reporters: "You don’t worry about him at the moment. You’d better take (running back) LeSean McCoy out the game first and then worry about Nick. It always starts with stopping the run for us and then getting to the quarterback. If we're fortunate enough to stop the run in this game, I like our chances."

McCoy is the league's leading rusher, but as we discussed extensively in Friday's Wake-Up Call, he got hit behind the line of scrimmage too many times in the Eagles' last game.

The offensive line will be tested by a stout Cardinals' run defense. Up front, they'll have to contend with 6-foot-8 Calais Campbell and three-time Pro Bowler Darnell Dockett. Each player has seven tackles for loss.

The Cardinals have talented inside linebackers too in Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington. Dansby leads the team with 85 tackles (six for loss).

Arizona has limited opponents to 3.5 YPC, third-best in the league.

***

EAGLES PASSING OFFENSE

 
Completion Percentage
YPA
20+
FB Outsiders (DVOA)
Nick Foles63.6% (10th)9.59 (1st)*56 (1st)*25.9% (6th)
Cardinals Passing Defense58.9% (11th)6.4 (5th)29 (7th)-15.3% (3rd)

* Team stat, not individual stat.

We covered a lot of this at the top. Foles has been on fire and looked as comfortable as he has all season two weeks ago in the team's win over the Redskins. He'll face a blitz-heavy attack from Arizona.

Outside linebacker John Abraham leads the Cardinals with seven sacks. Peters has been good in pass protection, but Lane Johnson has lacked consistency.

Campbell (5.5) and Dockett (4.5) have combined for 10 sacks. Todd Herremans has struggled in pass pro, although he's coming off perhaps his best game of the year against Washington.

Dansby is the Cardinals' most frequent blitzer, per PFF. He has three sacks on the season.

In the secondary, Arizona features shutdown corner Patrick Peterson and fifth-year veteran Jerraud Powers. Rookie Tyrann Mathieu plays a variety of roles and has been terrific with eight passes defended, two interceptions, a forced fumble, four tackles for loss and a sack.

DeSean Jackson needs just five catches to set a new career high in that department. He needs 15 yards to hit the 1,000-yard mark for the first time since 2010 and is averaging 17.0 yards per grab.

***

EAGLES RUSHING DEFENSE

 
YPC
FB Outsiders (DVOA)
Cardinals Rushing Offense3.7 (27th)-14.6% (26th)
Eagles Rushing Defense4.1 (T-13th)-6.1% (16th)

The Cardinals will go with Rashard Mendenhall and Andre Ellington out of the backfield. Among the 37 players who have had at least 100 carries, Mendenhall ranks 33rd in YPC at 3.0. He has not had a single carry of 20+ yards all season.

Ellington has been a different story. The rookie is averaging 6.0 YPC and has five runs of 20+ yards. He also has 28 catches for 247 yards.

The Eagles' defensive line has been outstanding against the run. Bennie Logan has provided a boost at nose tackle over Isaac Sopoaga. Fletcher Cox is playing at a Pro Bowl level. And Cedric Thornton has been the team's most consistent defensive player.

DeMeco Ryans is sixth in the NFL with 76 tackles. And the Eagles expect to get Mychal Kendricks back from injury.

***

EAGLES PASSING DEFENSE

 
Completion Percentage
YPA
20+
FB Outsiders (DVOA)
Carson Palmer63.3% (12th)7.31 (11th)*30 (25th)*3.4% (20th)
Eagles Passing Defense61.2% (18th)7.2 (18th)42 (25th)19.0% (26th)

* Team stat, not individual stat.

Carson Palmer has thrown 78 interceptions in his last 68 games. He's been picked off 15 times this year, third-most in the NFL. But he's played well in the last month, completing 69 percent of his passes during Arizona's win streak.

Fitzgerald has killed the Eagles throughout the course of his career and leads the team in catches (50), targets (91) and touchdowns (eight). Michael Floyd is playing at a high level and leads the Cardinals with 761 receiving yards. His 12 grabs of 20+ yards are also a team-high.

Palmer will spread the ball around. Five different players have at least 25 catches.

The Eagles still give up chunks of yardage in the passing game, but they've kept teams out of the end zone. Bradley Fletcher is expected to return from a pec injury and will start opposite Cary Williams. Brandon Boykin has a team-high four interceptions.

Nate Allen has been dependable and is playing the best football of his career. Patrick Chung will start at the other spot as Wolff has yet to recover from a knee injury.

Up front, the Cardinals are OK. They rank 19th in adjusted sack rate. But that number is probably more a function of Palmer than the offensive line talent. Palmer gets rid of the ball on average in 2.48 seconds, per PFF. That's fifth-quickest in the NFL.

Barwin and Trent Cole combined for three sacks against Washington. Cox leads the team in hurries (19).

***

THE ESSENTIALS

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. EST on FOX. Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston will have the call. The Eagles are 3-point favorites. According to Sports Insights, 61 percent of the money is on the Cardinals to cover.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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  • Adam

    Their defense has some holes in pass coverage that Foles is going to need to exploit to open up the run game for Shady. Yeremiah Bell and Jerraud Powers have struggled this year.

    I think the fact that we have fresh legs coming into this against an older team is huge. i think Chip and Davis will be able to scheme up some stuff to exploit this teams weaknesses (holes in the secondary, old and leaky OL, QB that doesn’t deal well with interior pressure).

    Big statement game and I feel good about it.

    • GEAGLE

      Cardinals have been really poor at defending TEs all year…hopefully Ertz has a big day and Celek didn’t use up all his turbo boosters against washington

  • BlindChow

    “I know over the years certain guys have had trouble fielding balls, but
    I think it could go the other way too if a guy’s used to maybe catching
    left-footed, the right foot is gonna look different.”

    Maybe that’s why Damaris muffed his punt earlier this year…

    • Carolina boy

      That’s why the patriots prefer a left footed kicker

    • Andy124

      Wait, who muffed that punt when Reid decided we didn’t need Mahe and what foot was that punter kicking with? Dundun duuuuunnnn

  • Carolina boy

    I’m hoping since we just coming off a bye that we go in that super fast pace that we showed in the redskins game to work against them blitz packages but we must get turnovers in this game
    ####FlyEaglesFly

  • Eneagled

    I’d like to see that beautiful screen play to Celek again. AZ will be ready, and jump all over it… but wait, Foles pump fakes to Celek and then passes short right to a wide open LJ, 15 yds and a crushed DB later they’ll be wondering what hit them.
    *I didn’t look at the closely at the aformentioned play to determine if this is possible

  • Brandon Boykin, OLB

    1) I love that to this day Sheil says things like “Bennie Logan has provided a boost at nose tackle over Isaac Sopoaga.”
    It’s like a constant reminder that the Sop trade was not boneheaded, as the Gregg Easterbrooks of the world would lead you to believe. Also, it says “Hey! The Eagles draft better than years past!”

    2) They interviewed the punter. The punter. Birds 24/7 FTW.

    • Justin

      You know, you mentioned the interview with the punter and I was like “What? I don’t see that”, and then I saw there were myltiple pages. HOW LONG HAS THIS BEEN GOING ON?

      • Brandon Boykin, OLB

        I just picked up on it recently. For my own sanity I try not to wonder about how long it has been happening.

        • nicksaenz1

          Hasn’t been long. You’re not insane. I’d say this is the 3rd, maybe 4th week of 24/7 using it.

      • PaoliBulldog

        Not too long, couple of weeks at most.

      • Adam

        It tricked me too for the first week or so. It’s just best not to think about it. I’d say it’s to give them more page views. No problem with this as long as they don’t go bleacher report style on us!

  • G_WallyHunter

    I don’t wish injury upon anyone, but Ellington has his knee wrapped, injured in practice yesterday.
    wahoo

    • TNA

      He’s officially listed as Questionable…

      • G_WallyHunter

        update: didn’t practice today, yippeeee

        • GEAGLE

          He don’t scare me anyway..he a good Recieving Back, but Mykal Kendricks gonna have a big game

          • G_WallyHunter

            Ya, whether he scares or not, rather stepfan taylor than him.
            Wish it was Floyd instead that banged up his knee, of course

          • GEAGLE

            I want Patterson to go down…if he plays offense Chung better murder him

          • MildEagsFan

            FLOYD IS GONNA TORCHHHHHH YA FEEL DAT G

    • #7

      Ellington is no one to be scared of anyway

      • G_WallyHunter

        Hey if Eagles just have to stop Mendy then good. Ellington is shifty as fack, even tho Eags run D has been great, not a huge concern. Obviously more concerned about Fitz and Floyd

        • #7

          Fitz had destroyed us in recent years, but I like our corners. I’m concerned about Foles. The Cards have a very good defense. People say on here that they have holes at corner, but I disagree. Peterson is a top 5 corner and Badger makes big plays. Arians is a great coach and has them playing tough football. I wanted him as our HC. Wasn’t sure about Chip at the time.

  • PaoliBulldog

    Here’s a recent article that lends credence to the left footed punter theory:

    http://goo.gl/5PHmwS

    I always wondered how much of an adjustment receivers had to make for a left handed QB, but I never thought about returners adjusting to a left footed punter.

    Also, as an aside, I found this article about a punting guru who has worked with Donnie Jones (has nothing to do with left footedness):

    http://goo.gl/LrxkGB

  • PaoliBulldog

    I suppose that if the NFL lasts another 25 years (heh), it will be novel to have a right footed punter.

    Or maybe Kickalicious will learn to punt ambidextrously and go left-right-left-right on successive attempts.

  • PaoliBulldog

    One final thought — I wonder if a left handed punt returner would have fewer problems fielding left footed punts?

    • Adam

      That’s what I’m thinking, but I also wonder the effects of whether the stadium runs East-West or North-South? Below or above the Mason-Dixon line?

      • PaoliBulldog

        Northern hemisphere or southern? Wind direction? Sunspot activity?

  • Cyrus Robinson

    I find it interesting that online, you’ll see some people say “Nick Foles sucks and Dallas is the REAL Nick Foles! The other games are an anomaly!” Besides completely disregarding the statistical validity of using one point versus 5, Foles has been historically good INCLUDING that terrible stinker of a game. I think that says something. When you play the worst game of your career in a stretch of games and that stretch of games is considered historically good, you’re doing something right!!

    • Adam

      How does Nick Foles redeem himself for that performance?

      It’s simple… we kill the Cowgirls

      • GEAGLE

        Nick is gutting those cow sissies regardless. I can’t wait to play them again…Fraud ass team….why couldn’t romo throw 7 TDs with Dez Bryant and Witten against a raiders defense? I want to wat FOles gut them sooooo bad!!! Can’t wait

      • GEAGLE

        Expecting FOles to gut them

  • GEAGLE

    If Cox,Barwin and Cole play how the played against Washington, we will put a beating on this team

  • BlindChow

    Fitzgerald’s history against the Eagles means little this time around. Different schemes (offensively and defensively), different players on both teams (except Nate Allen!), even Fitzgerald’s age (though that could be weighted either for/against, depending on whether the experience he’s gained outweighs the wear as he’s gotten older).

    There is just too much difference between this team and the Eagles teams he’s faced before for those stats to be relevant.